Waldorf, MD  – JESCO Incorporated, a John Deere Construction Equipment Dealer in four states throughout the northeast, broke ground on its newest facility in Waldorf, MD on November 28, 2016.

Located at 9B Industrial Park Circle,  the new site is strategically located to serve the Southern Maryland and the greater Washington DC area.

The 17,043 sq. ft. facility will be constructed on 5.08 acres, will house a total of 9,417 sq. ft of service area and is equipped with six modern bays; the new building will allow for future expansion additional service bays.

“This facility will essentially mirror the branch that we built in Deer Park, NY last year”  says Anthony Falzarano VP of Sales, “The new Waldorf location will give JESCO the opportunity to better service Southern Maryland and D.C. markets as we will be able to significantly increase our rental presence in the region.”

Providing the highest quality service and products has been a core function of JESCO’s business model for 44 years and will continue to be fundamental as the company expands it footprint in the industry.

“2017 is poised to be an exciting year for JESCO” says JESCO President Jonathan Robustelli, “JESCO will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2017 and we are excited to add the Waldorf branch as a full service facility in Southern Maryland.”  Robustelli adds, “The expansive parts warehouse, additional yard space and rental capability of this branch will allow us to better serve our customers’ needs”.

In addition to a full line of John Deere construction and compact equipment, the new location will supply Ditch Witch products, Bomag road building equipment, Genesis demolition tools, Indeco hydraulic breakers and Hydrema compact dump trucks for sale and rental.

JESCO anticipates the Waldorf facility to be fully operational by the fall of 2017.  Once completed this will be JESCO’s twelfth operational branch.

Other  areas serviced include Baltimore, Frederick, Delmar, District Heights and White Plains, Maryland; South Plainfield, Mount Holly and Fairfield, New Jersey; Beacon and Deer Park, New York; Middletown, Delaware and Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

For more information, call 800.241.7070 or visit http://www.jesco.us/.

DC City Council Tentative Committee Assignments for 2017-18 Released, Pending Confirmation January 2

Chairman  Mendelson has now released a tentative  listing of committees for Council Period 22 (2017-2018).   Every element of this list is tentative, and will remain so until the Organizational Meeting to be held on January 2, at which time the Council will formally approve its committee structure and rules for the two years to follow.

 

COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS

Kenyan McDuffie, Chairperson

Anita Bonds

Jack Evans

Vincent Gray

David Grosso

 

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

David Grosso, Chairperson

Charles Allen

Anita Bonds

Robert White

Trayon White

 

COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND REVENUE

Jack Evans, Chairperson

Vincent Gray

Kenyan McDuffie

Elissa Silverman

Robert White

 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Brandon Todd, Chairperson

Brianne Nadeau

Elissa Silverman

Robert White

Trayon White

 

COMMITTEE ON HEALTH

Vincent Gray, Chairperson

Charles Allen

Mary Cheh

Brianne Nadeau

Brandon Todd

 

COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION

Anita Bonds, Chairperson

Jack Evans

Brianne Nadeau

Elissa Silverman

Trayon White

 

COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES

Brianne Nadeau, Chairperson

David Grosso

Brandon Todd

Robert White

Trayon White

 

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

Charles Allen, Chairperson

Anita Bonds

Mary Cheh

Vincent Gray

Kenyan McDuffie

 

COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Elissa Silverman, Chairperson

Mary Cheh

David Grosso

Robert White

Trayon White

 

COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Mary Cheh, Chairperson

Charles Allen

Jack Evans

Kenyan McDuffie

Brandon Todd

The DC City Council voted to pass the Paid Leave Act in an amended form on December 20, 2016.  The Act received its required first vote at the previous Legislative Meeting earlier in December, and passed by a vote of 11 to 2. In the interim, an alternative version of the bill focusing on an employer mandate rather than a payroll tax was circulated. NUCA of DC supported this version of the paid leave act.  It was introduced as an amendment in the nature of a substitute, but was subsequently defeated by a vote of 8 to 5. An amendment was accepted that mandates a review of the bill three years after implementation, to determine if the tax rate and/or benefit levels should be revisited. In the end, the bill as amended passed by a 9 to 4 vote.

The core benefits and funding structure of the bill did not change between readings: the bill provides eight weeks of care when a new child joins a household (through birth, adoption, foster care, or assumed legal guardianship), six weeks of care for sick relatives, and two weeks of self-care. A 0.62% tax rate would be applied to employer payrolls, generating a maximum $1,000 weekly benefit. Employees would receive a benefit equaling 90% of their salary, up to 1.5 times the minimum wage, then 50% of their wage, up to the previously stated maximum.

Under the approved structure, the benefits will be administered by a yet-to-be-established District agency.

The DC City Council voted Tuesday to implement a plan to provide more than half a million workers with eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave programs.

Tuesday’s 11-to-2 vote by the D.C. Council came despite concerns that the leave program would harm small businesses and cost some workers their jobs. Although three states guarantee paid family leave, all of them fund the benefit in part through employee contributions.  DC’s plan is proposed to be funded by a payroll tax and administered via a new city department.

The council initially proposed 16 weeks of paid family leave, funded by a 1 percent payroll tax on businesses. That was then cut to 11 weeks, to reduce the payroll tax to 0.62 percent. On Tuesday, the Council cut it further, to eight weeks for a new child or six weeks to care for a sick relative, while adding two weeks of leave for a worker’s own illness or injury. No state currently guarantees eight weeks of paid leave, although New York will when its program launches in 2018.

Workers would receive up to 90 percent of their salary, with the benefit capped at $1,000 per week. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that structure ensures that the city’s lower-income workers stand to gain the most from the benefit.

The council will take another vote on the program in two weeks before sending it to the mayor’s desk.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has not said whether she would sign the bill, but the 11-to-2 margin would be veto-proof if it holds when the council votes again.  Critics of the plan cited the program’s costs, its uncertain effect on businesses and the fact that more than 60 percent of those who would get the benefits live in Maryland and Virginia.

If the bill becomes law, it would be sent to Congress for approval, like all laws in the District, and it could run into opposition with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency. Congress can pass a resolution invalidating a District law, although that’s extremely rare. Congress more often blocks city policy in other ways, usually through amendments to spending bills.

The bill applies only to private employers because the city cannot tax the federal government and the local government already has a paid leave program. Supporters said funding the program through a payroll tax was the only option because the District is barred from taxing workers who don’t live in the city.

The DC Council Universal Paid Leave legislation appears to be moving forward quickly with passage likely by the end of December. Today Chairman Mendelson will release a new version of his legislation. Councilmember David Grosso has told the press this legislation will be the most expansive paid leave benefit in the country.

From coalition conversations and what has been reported in the press the bill will consist of 11 weeks of maternity/paternity leave and 8 weeks to care for a parent or grandparent. Employees would be eligible to receive up to 90% of salary with the benefit being capped at $1,000 a week. The bill will cover those who work in DC regardless of where they live. Both Federal employees and DC residents who work in other jurisdictions will not be permitted to opt-in to the program.

The program will be funded by a .62% payroll tax that is estimated to begin in January of 2019 that will create a new technology infrastructure and a DC government-run program. Employees will not be able to draw benefits from the fund until January of 2020. NUCA of DC has serious concerns as to how some of our members will be able to both pay the tax and provide strong benefits during this period of limbo.

Chairman Mendelson has reiterated his goal to pass the legislation before January. He plans to have the council take the first vote on Dec. 6 and the final vote on Dec. 20. Should the council vote twice in favor of the bill, it will be up to Mayor Muriel Bowser whether to veto the legislation. Bowser has voiced concern about the bill’s cost and its impact on the business community. The law would also need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Congress, though it is rare for Congress to invalidate a District law.

NUCA of DC, in conjunction with other invested organizations will continue to push for the alternative Employer Mandate model as it provides full wage replacement for 8 weeks at a lower cost while preserving the existing employer-employee benefits relationship. We will be sure to keep you updated as this issue progresses.

 

President-elect Donald Trump’s ambitious proposal for improving the nation’s infrastructure relies on private financing, but the plan has its critics.

By Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
Can you get something for nothing?

According to President-elect Donald Trump, the answer is yes. You can get $1 trillion in infrastructure using a “revenue neutral” model of private financing that won’t burden government budgets.

The declining state of America’s infrastructure has long been a major issue for both Democrats and Republicans, but the parties have disagreed about how to pay for what the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has identified as a $3.6 trillion investment gap.

Trump’s senior policy advisers say they have an answer. In late October, Wilbur Ross, a private equity investor, and Peter Navarro, a University at California, Irvine business professor, released a detailed plan for Trump’s vision on infrastructure, which calls for investment in transportation, clean water, the electricity grid, telecommunications, security infrastructure, and “other pressing domestic needs.” Trump’s vision relies heavily on private companies to make American infrastructure great again.

To finance $1 trillion dollars worth of new infrastructure, the Trump plan would entice private companies to invest $167 billion of their own equity into projects. In return, these companies would get a tax incentive equal to 82% of that equity investment, or roughly $137 million in government tax breaks. Companies could then leverage their initial equity investment and tax credit financing to borrow more money on private financial markets, where interest rates are at historic lows. “With interest rates so low, this has got to be the best time from a break-even point of view, from a societal point of view,” Ross told Yahoo! Finance.

In addition, companies would be allowed to receive revenue—in the form of tolls or fees from users of this infrastructure—in order to offset their costs and generate profits.

The Trump plan hopes to pay for the financial burden of those government tax credits in two ways: First, through the increased tax revenue that would come from the wage income of construction workers and others building the projects; and second, from the taxes that would be paid on the increased revenues of the companies contracted to do the work. In other words, the income tax of workers and the profits made from fees collected from users of the infrastructure would offset the lost tax revenue from government tax credits.

Creating a deficit-neutral infrastructure plan is nothing new. In 2015, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) championed a bill calling for a $478 billion investment over six years without increasing the deficit. Funding relied on closing corporate tax breaks that allow corporations to stash money overseas. That bill was blocked by the Republican Senate.

Public-private partnerships are common in complex infrastructure projects, but what’s unusual about Trump’s plan is the extent to which private companies would take over the entirety of projects. Private entities, which are beholden to corporate revenue requirements, would be put in charge of public sphere entities. Navarro, responding to that potential criticism, said in an interview with Yahoo! Finance that Trump’s “form of financing doesn’t rule out the government managing the whole thing after it’s built. This is not like the prison thing.” (Stock prices of for-profit prison companies, meanwhile, are on the rise with Trump’s win.)

How important is it to close the infrastructure investment gap? The ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the country a D+ grade. The next report card is being prepped for release in March 2017. “From ACSE’s perspective, clearly there’s a role for the private sector in infrastructure development, and it’s already been involved for a long time,” says Brian T. Pallasch, managing director of Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives at the society. “We still have a bit of uncertainty as to what [private investment] means in the Trump administration’s proposed perspective. They clearly want private investment in infrastructure. When you get the private sector involved in infrastructure, there is going to need to be a rate of return for them to make money. Historically, municipal infrastructure hasn’t had private investors because there hasn’t been a rate of return. How does that solve itself?”

How, for example, might you make the business case for a profit-driven private company to invest in the municipal water supply in Flint, Mich.? The answer may lie in increased fees for users of that service. “We feel very strongly that users of infrastructure should pay for it. That principal is one we support,” Pallasch says. That said, he notes the need to be realistic about the financial burden certain fees could cause. “The idea of raising water rates is a struggle for many municipalities where you have low-income households. We’ve been talking to colleagues in the water world about how do you set up programs where you raise rates and it allows subsidization of lower income residents?”

As for water, the Trump plan suggests tripling funding for state revolving loan fund programs, which supply low cost financing to municipalities, but it does not identify where those increased funds would come from.

Critics of revenue-neutral plans such as these say that what would be saved on the front end will get paid for on the back end in the form of tolls and increased fees for users. In general, “revenue neutral tax proposals by definition create winners and losers,” economist Thomas L. Hungerford wrote last year in an op-ed. “The winners would pay less in taxes and the losers would pay more in taxes. The losers tend to be highly concentrated in certain income groups and business sectors, essentially becoming special interests.”

Some economists believe the Trump plan to use tax revenues to offset costs is overly ambitious. It assumes that the income tax revenue generated from construction and other contract workers on these projects will be in addition to existing tax revenue. As Alan Cole, an economist at the independent Tax Foundation, told the Washington Post, the plan overinflates the potential revenue because it assumes workers on these projects were previously unemployed or not already contributing to income tax revenue. (This plan also means that income tax revenue would be diverted from other funding needs to underwrite infrastructure.)

Cole noted, too, that Americans would ultimately foot the bill for these new projects, not only in user fees. “Maintenance and new construction would only occur in communities where it is urgently needed if private investors were convinced users could afford to pay,” he told The Washington Post. And if, as Navarro proposed in his Yahoo! Finance interview, the government takes over the projects once built, then the government would be on the hook for long-term care and maintenance.

Indeed, having so much private investment could weight projects to wealthier demographics. “Under Trump’s plan, poorer communities that need the new projects and repairs the most would get the least attention,” writes Jeff Spross, business and economic correspondent for The Week

There’s also concern that Trump’s infrastructure plan doesn’t work in tandem with his other proposed policy changes, such as tax cuts for the wealthy. “He’s right that borrowing to invest in infrastructure makes sense in times like these when interest rates are low,” the editors of The New York Times write. “But combined with his other plans, Mr. Trump’s proposed borrowing would do severe fiscal damage.”

Once financed by private enterprise and tax incentives, infrastructure projects under Trump’s plan would speed through the “boondoggle” of “red tape” via a proposed streamlined approval process. Projects would “put American steel made by American workers into the backbone of America’s infrastructure,” according to the vision statement, co-authored in part by Ross. A billionaire investor, he specializes in bankruptcies and has “parlayed a series of ballsy political and financial gambles on left-for-dead assets—midwestern steel mills, southern textile mills, and Appalachian coal mines—into an empire.” It’s unclear how Trump’s administration would dictate that private companies use only American steel when Trump himself relied on cheaper Chinese steel in his own real estate development projects. The Trump vision also touts an increase in private sector investment to “better connect American coal and shale energy production with markets and consumers.” Notably absent is any mention of investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

Overall, the current Trump plan strongly focuses on traditional “horizontal” infrastructure needs—surface roads, pipelines, water distribution. Besides a call to modernize America’s airports, the infrastructure of buildings and other public spaces isn’t explicitly mentioned. The ACSE, meanwhile, categorizes schools, public parks, and recreation among the critical infrastructure needs in its report card.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has consistently lobbied the government to expand its view of infrastructure. “One of the things that we’ve communicated to presidential transition teams in the past, and will continue to do, is to remember that infrastructure is more than roads and bridges; it’s also schools and libraries and buildings,” says Andrew Goldberg, Assoc. AIA, the Institute’s managing director of government relations and advocacy. “It’s not just the infrastructure that moves people and things, it’s also what happens once you get there. Infrastructure was the first policy related item that Trump mentioned in his victory speech, and I think that there is a strong opportunity coming into next year for some serious work. It will be important to speak to the importance of the built environment and the community assets in addition to ‘traditional’ infrastructure.”

Goldberg agrees that private financing on some level is critical. “It is a necessity because the backlog on funding for infrastructure would be difficult to fund via the government budget,” he says. “The real question, though, is how can you do that in a way that enables us to build infrastructure that is healthy, safe, and sustainable, and that provides benefits for taxpayers and grows the economy? We don’t just want to build fast, we want to build well, and that’s where our work comes in, making sure the built environment is well designed, and that we’re building resilient communities.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson at her website and follow her on Twitter @elizdickinson.

About the Author

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson has been a contributing editor with ARCHITECT since 2008. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Metropolis, Fast Company‘s Co.Design, and The Atlantic‘s CityLab, among many other publications.

On October 6,  the one-year anniversary of the D.C. Council’s introduction of a “Universal Paid Leave” Bill, a coalition of D.C. employer groups presented to the Mayor and the D.C. Council an alternative that would benefit both employers and employees: an employer mandate model. 

A letter to the Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) from the coalition stated, “Although well intentioned, the paid leave legislation currently being considered by the Council has significant flaws.” The letter expressed concerns that a 1% tax on employers will result in slowed growth and employers moving outside of the District. No other paid leave program in the country is funded this way.

Chairman Mendelson indicates he is moving forward on his legislation. His current bill creates a new bureaucracy to administer this program. In this model employees would go to the DC government to have leave approved and to secure a portion of their paycheck. While Mendelson is expected to revise his legislation he still indicates he plans to move the bill this year. “My commitment is that the Council will vote on the package this year,” Mendelson said.

The alternate Employer Mandate plan put forth by the coalition includes full wage replacement for eight weeks for employees who have been employed for at least one-year and have worked at least 1250 hours. Like the Council’s plan, the Employer Mandate will be phased in beginning with large employers. Employers with 50 or more employees will have one year to comply.

Small and medium organizations will have two years to implement the benefit. A shared risk insurance pool will be created through a private insurance market as an option for small organizations (with fewer than 20 employees) and medium organizations (with between 20-49 employees). The $20 million already put forth by the Council would be redirected to subsidize insurance premiums for small and medium organizations

 

INSURANCE ASSOCIATES ANNOUNCES OUR LATEST NEW HIRE AND TWO PROMOTIONS

Insurance Associates is excited to announce the hire of our newest associate, Karen Garceau, and the promotion of two employees:  Lexi Stock and BJ Westner.

Karen was hired to Insurance Associates in May 2016.  Her career started early in high school working for her father’s property and casualty insurance firm in Maine. For twenty years after this she specialized in construction at an independent insurance agency in Florida. Karen was responsible for account management, risk management, client services, marketing, sales, and agency operations. She brings her greatest strengths to IA that consists of understanding the unique insurance needs of the construction industry and her ability to solve problems. In her spare time, Karen enjoys spending time with her four children and four grandchildren, camping, hiking, and going to the gym.

Karen graduated from Florida State College at Jacksonville and also earner her Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 2003 and Certified Risk Manager Designation in 2009.

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Lexi Stock to Director of Marketing and Communications for the agency. Lexi has been with IA since 2012 and is proud to have developed their strategic marketing plan from the ground up. Her marketing responsibilities include increasing brand awareness, agency newsletters, social media, e-blast campaigns, and the company website. In addition to marketing responsibilities she also demonstrates our interactive portal to clients and manages all public relations activities for the agency. In her spare time she represents IA as Chairman for Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington (ABC)’s Young Professionals Group, ABC.XYZ.

Lexi received both her BBA and MBA from Loyola University Maryland.

We are also pleased to announce the promotion of BJ Westner to Senior Claims Consultant. BJ has been a significant part of our claims team for over four years and has made a huge impact in our ability to provide top notch, value-added service to our clients. With over sixteen years of claims experience, his technical skills, education, and eye for detail, BJ has been an aggressive advocate for our clients. Since joining the agency, BJ has assisted clients with large and complex claims as well as helped clients lower their experience mod and implement proactive back to work programs. Whether he’s using case law to get a claim paid or using his wealth of multi-lines claims knowledge to answer many “what if” scenarios, BJ is always available to help a client with their claims needs.

BJ graduated from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington’s Leadership Development Program in 2015.

Founded in 1956, Insurance Associates is an independent insurance agency serving the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Rockville, Fairfax, Laurel, and Towson.  We are a locally owned company that prides itself on having one of the most competent, experienced, and tenured workforces of any agency in the area.  We advocate for our clients across a diverse range of products and services including Surety Bonding, Commercial Insurance, Employee Benefit Plans, Personal Insurance and Life Insurance.

For more information about our passion and the rest of our team at Insurance Associates, please visit us at www.insassoc.com, follow us on LinkedIn and like us on Facebook.

 

Before adjourning for election season, the House passed a bill that would postpone the December 1 effective date of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule until the middle of next year. Senate action, if any, won’t come till after election day.

A possible delay in the implementation of a controversial new rule governing eligibility for overtime pay drew a step closer this week, though it’s unclear whether it will be stopped before the effective date of December 1.

Late Wednesday night, the House passed bill H.R. 6094, which would delay implementation until June 1, 2017.

The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 246-177, though five Democrats did vote in favor of the bill. The Senate adjourned the same night after passing a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown, meaning the Senate will not vote on the overtime bill until after the November elections at the earliest.

The final overtime rule, announced by the Department of Labor in May, raises the threshold for employees who are exempt from overtime pay to $47,476—more than double the current salary threshold of $23,660.

“We all agree we need to modernize our nation’s overtime rules, but small businesses, nonprofits, and colleges and universities should not be hurt in the process,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), who introduced the bill said. “The department needs to abandon this flawed rule and pursue the balanced approach we’ve been fighting for from the start. Instead, they are forcing those who have to deal with the real-world consequences to make significant changes before an arbitrary December deadline.”

Without further congressional action, the overtime rule will take effect December 1. And with Congress adjourned until November 14 so that lawmakers can campaign for reelection, there will be little time for the Senate to act before the rule becomes effective. In addition, the White House threatened to veto Walberg’s bill earlier this week.

While continuing to press for a legislative solution, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous other organizations have joined together in a lawsuit to block the rule from taking effect on December 1.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, argues that the Labor Department exceeded its authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act by drastically altering the minimum salary requirements for exemption and by establishing an automatic salary threshold increase every three years, to take place without notice or public comment.

“The costs of compliance will force many smaller employers and nonprofits operating on fixed budgets to cut critical programming, staffing, and services to the public,” the complaint says. “Many employers will lose the ability to effectively and flexibly manage their workforces upon losing the exemption for frontline executives, administrators, and professionals.”

After finalizing an agreement in July to buy the 66-acre former Walter Reed medical campus, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has just announced the site will have a school up and running by September 2017. The District will expedite construction on the District of Columbia International School so that 775 students can use the facility by the start of next school year.
“The US Army has worked with my office to ensure that we diligently progress with the redevelopment of the Walter Reed campus to benefit the community to the greatest extent possible,” Bowser said in a release. “We appreciate the urgency and diligence of the US Army, the District of Columbia International School and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to bring DCI students to their new home on the Walter Reed campus by 2017.” The school will move into Delano Hall on the campus.  Construction is expected to begin next month.
The final transfer of the campus to allow the full project to begin will occur around Oct. 31, the release said. A development team of Hines, Urban Atlantic, Toll Brothers and Triden Development won the bid in 2013 and plan to build 2,000 housing units, 250k SF of retail, offices anchored by George Washington University, MIT and bioscience/pharmaceutical companies and a Hyatt hotel and conference center. It won’t be, however, anchored by a Wegmans, as many hoped.